A/N: So, my first multi-chapter Les Mis fic (maybe)! I would love you to let me know if I should continue and also-if so-whether I should keep Javert alive or not. He doesn't come into this chapter, so that's still open ended. For the record, Le Bagne de Brest is a real French prison that was operating at this time, but the only in-depth information I could find on it was in French, which I do not speak nearly proficiently enough to translate it. So I am using the information I have on Le Bagne de Toulon (Valjean's prison) and substituting it (except the bit about it being a common place to send lifers, which is true of Brest). This uses the idea that all of the Amis, including Gavroche and excepting Marius, survived the barricade and were arrested-I think I wrote it partly because I am in denial that they all died, and I love the 2012 film portrayals of them (except Bossuet, who is annoyingly not-bald). This is just a brief opening chapter. Enjoy!


Look down! Look down!
Don't look them in the eye!


It's hot in the courtroom.

No, it's more than hot. It's stifling, suffocating. Little rivers of sweat meander their way down the judge's face from under his wig. His face is puffed up; glistening, red and ugly. He smells the blood of traitors. He feels the hunter's thrill of cornering his prey.

The prey in question are chained together in a row on one side of the courthouse. Every last one gazes squarely out across the room in a defiant display of courage, and every last one strives for some small contact with the friend next to him, shoulders brushing in an effort to feel united against the simmering hostility of the court.

Expectation sits heavy in the air. The crowd, packed indecently close in order to squeeze as many eager spectators into the trial of the already famous would-be revolutionaries, looks on in a collectively accusatory silence. Their faces are dark, eyes gleaming with the resentment and savage eagerness felt towards those they are about to see condemned. They swelter, anticipating. They had noticed with disdain the sympathetic crowd of the poor gather outside the courthouse in a quiet display of support for the revolutionaries and now they wait, slavering, for the sentence of the first to be announced.

The court has covered all of the usual trial procedures, but everyone there knows that they are formalities only. The manacled line of filthy youths are, undeniably, guilty. The judge surveys his defendants superciliously. One could hardly believe that they ever could have led a rebellion, let alone that they could drag a disproportionately large number of the National Guard down with them when their barricade fell. Dirt and blood cling to them like a second skin. They have not been permitted to change their clothes since they were hauled away from the barricade. His gaze reaches the end of line, where it drops in height down to a pair of young, fierce eyes. In his mind, the boy is as criminally accountable as any of his older fellows.

Finally, he turns his attention to the one currently standing trial. The youth grips at his chains, possessing them. His fingers go white under streaks of red and brown. His jaw juts defiantly and his eyes are steady, resting unwaveringly on the countenance of the judge.

Condemn me, his face says. You will never defeat our cause.

Certainly, he is the sort of person who could turn you to his opinion with a mere look. Even the judge, staunch monarchist that he is, can appreciate this allure. The angles of his face are sharp, very nearly jarring, but orchestrated to perfection, leading to an overall impression of striking, exquisite beauty. His hair, though currently dishevelled and dirty, could be spun sunlight. His eyes are a hot, virulent blue. He looks like a righteously militant archangel; the captain of heaven's vanguard. He glances down at his papers. The room holds its breath.

"Rene Enjolras."

There is no acknowledgement of this address from the youth himself, only that constant, proud watchfulness. His persistent lack of fear irks the judge. He is used to men cowering before him, but he cannot escape the feeling that this Enjolras is not unaccustomed to the same, despite their being as opposite as the poles. The judge delivers his sentence with vicious relish.

"I pronounce you guilty of inciting an attempted rebellion against His Majesty Louis-Philippe I, an act of treason. I hereby sentence you to a lifetime of imprisonment and hard labour at Le Bagne de Brest."

Brest ripples around the room. The prison at Brest was no kind place, known for the cruelty of its labour and the brutality of its guards. It was the grim, distant residence to which the court so often pushed those given a life sentence, and so it was known also for the rampant violence of its inmates.

The defendant, Rene Enjolras, just has time to jerk his chin once in an aloof gesture of comprehension before he is seized and shoved back into the line, and the next is hauled up before the judge, and the perfunctory trial begins again.


"Raymond Combeferre..."

Combeferre does not listen to his charges. He watches his friends as they wait their turn, apparently unafraid, and in his mind he lists all of the miniscule details of each of their demeanours that tell him that they are frightened, except for Enjolras, who is, as always, inscrutable when it comes to the toll of sacrifice.

"...hereby sentence you to a lifetime of imprisonment and hard labour at Le Bagne de Brest."


"Antoine Julien de Courfeyrac..."

Even here, even now, Courfeyrac winces as he is assaulted with his full title, and most mercilessly of all, his dreaded participle. He receives his sentence with uncharacteristically steely eyes.

"...sentence you to a lifetime of imprisonment and hard labour at Le Bagne de Brest."


"Guillaume Feuilly..."

Feuilly counts the links in his chains until he remembers the half-finished fan lying on his worktop at the fan-seller's, and wonders, bizarrely, if anyone will think to finish it for him. He hopes they do. He hopes they sell it to a poor woman cheap and it makes her happy.

"...I hereby sentence you to a lifetime of imprisonment and hard labour at Le Bagne de Brest."


"Olivier Joly..."

In what feels a somewhat pathetic revenge, Joly idly but spitefully diagnoses the judge with several unpleasant and fatal illnesses in his head, because it keeps him from dwelling on how rotten their glorious fight has turned.

"...sentence you to a lifetime of imprisonment and hard labour at Le Bagne de Brest."


"Jacques Bahorel..."

Bahorel has never wanted to punch somebody in the face as ferociously as he does now, but he has never been standing trial with his hands manacled as he is now. When the sentence rolls predictably off the judge's tongue, he is compensates by expressing all of their sentiments and spitting bitterly on the floor.

"...I hereby sentence you to a lifetime of imprisonment and hard labour at Le Bagne de Brest."


"Nicolas Grantaire..."

Grantaire does not have room within himself to focus on anything beyond the uncomfortable lack of alcohol in his blood. He does not care, as is his prerogative, that he is being given a lifetime prison sentence for something that he never believed in. He twists his chains in his hands to hide their shaking, lest his friends should mistake it for fear to be counted among them.

"...hereby sentence you to a lifetime of imprisonment and hard labour at Le Bagne de Brest."


"Jean Prouvaire..."

Jehan receives his sentence with a grace second only to Enjolras's and a sorrowful downward glance. Under his breath, he murmurs all the lines of poetry that he can think of that tell of brotherhood and endurance, and locks them in his heart.

"...hereby sentence you to a lifetime of imprisonment and hard labour at Le Bagne de Brest."


"Henri Lesgles..."

Lesgles sighs and remembers the back room of the Musain after a meeting, full of smoke and the symphony of his friends' laughter, and prays that Fortune will be kind enough to land him with his brothers in this. As it happens, she does.

"...I hereby sentence you to a lifetime of imprisonment and hard labour at Le Bagne de Brest."


At least Enjolras will not have to face Brest alone. It is done, and they are condemned. But as the last of their line is led up to stand trial, every Ami tenses almost imperceptibly, their breath catching, eyes sharp.

Gavroche can barely see the judge over the wooden rail. He peers dauntlessly at the large, sweaty man, and notes with satisfaction how he has to press his considerable weight forwards to be able to look at Gavroche at all.

"Gavroche Thenadier?"

It is more a question than a statement, as though the judge can barely believe the age of the boy he is trying for treason. Gavroche gives one curt nod, the way he'd seen Enjolras do, lip curling slightly as he is tagged with his father's name. The judge clears his throat thunderously, as though to sweep his previous uncertainty out of the room. Even from here, Gavroche can tell that he is not a man who can stand appearing out of control. The crowd in the courthouse shifts uneasily. They are less comfortable in their eagerness for justice on this boy. It is easy to condemn a man, but no one wishes to be seen as responsible for condemning a child.

Gavroche wonders what his sentence will be. He almost wants the judge to repeat the sentence he had dealt his ragtag band of surrogate older brothers, just to prove that he too is dangerous enough to the throne for the court to have to lock him away for life. But in a tiny corner of his heart, he is petrified. The courthouse is crushingly large and rich. He had trusted in his courage as he stood at Bossuet's side, but on his own before the judge with every eye on him, he has never been so exposed. He feels dizzy with uncertainty and sick with the terror of not knowing.

A short time later, his questions are answered.

"I pronounce you guilty of assisting rebellion against His Majesty Louis-Philippe I, an act of treason. Taking your age into account and the likelihood of you having been influenced by these villains, I sentence you to five years' imprisonment in Le Bagne de Brest."

A rush of relief for Gavroche-five years until he is separated from his friends-and a knife of dread in his gut. Prison is the pit into which no gamin wishes to fall. There is also a small sting of childish disappointment that he was only worth charging with assisting rebellion as opposed to attempting rebellion like Courfeyrac and the others, or better yet, inciting rebellion like Enjolras.

There is an animalistic noise of outrage from Courfeyrac which changes into a brief, pained yelp as Feuilly, chained next to him, stamps on his toes. One wrong move, and they could all be for the firing squad. Gavroche twists around and gives them all a brave grin, which they all attempt to return with varying degrees of success.

Of all the outcomes they had considered for the rebellion, this had been the least considered and thought the least likely. In some ways, it was the worst possible, and perhaps that is why they had shied from discussing it. Whatever they did, they had wanted to do it blazingly, either overthrowing the monarchy and razing the old world to the ground, or martyring themselves for their beliefs in showers of fire. They had not expected this sudden burn-out. They had not expected to be turned into ash, left cold and crumbling.

Yet under this ash, one tiny coal smoulders. They are together, and that is something.


A/N: I'd love to know whether I should continue with this and whether I should keep Javert alive (he wouldn't have a major role at the beginning, but may pop up later...). We should get more in-depth with the boys next chapter! Also, a big thank-you to stagepageandscreen for helping me with the names of the Amis! Review, anyone...? :)